In defense of the rebel flag in DeFuniak Springs

June 18, 2012

I would like to bring several factual errors in the Walton Sun’s Letter to the editor “LETTER: Why does a racist symbol fly over our courthouse?” to your attention.

First, the Confederate battle flag is not flying “over our courthouse.” The flag is flying over a monument to Confederate military dead.

Second, the reason it is not the state flag of the Confederacy is the monument is to military dead and the battle flag is a military flag.  Whether it was flown in Florida during the war is inconsequential if the monument is to generic Confederate soldiers and sailors. Flags of that design did accompany Confederate land troops into battle. It is a generic flag for generic dead.

In the context in which it is being flown, it is not a racist symbol. To suggest it is surrenders the Confederate flag to racists. The struggle of the Confederate soldier was for independence and self-government. That is what the flag symbolizes.

Third, Nathan Bedford Forrest did not found the KKK. He did not select the battle flag as the KKK banner. The only official act Forrest performed as its Grand Wizard, that I know of, was to order its disbandment. The original KKK had many chapters across the South. They operated independently of one another, as a military arm of the local Democratic Party, to regain political control from occupying Republican scalawags and carpetbaggers, who were using armed members of the Freedman’s Bureau and Union Leagues to help maintain control in the South during Reconstruction.

When the KKK was resurrected in the early 20th century with the intent to stop Catholic immigration, its flag was the U.S. flag. Take a look at photos from the 1920s of KKK rallies and marches. They carry the Star Spangled Banner, not the Confederate battle flag. So, if the American flag is flying over the local courthouse, Mr. Hirsch may ironically be asking the correct question about the wrong flag.

Robert Hirsch is simply wrong in what he asserts with regard to the flag, its placement, and its meaning in the context in which it is being flown. Rather than hector people into removing a flag from a monument, he should spend his time educating himself as to the monument and its significance. His total lack of knowledge and understanding is embarrassing.

John Weir
Overland Park, Kan.